Protecting your ears at festivals

Have you ever experience buzzing or ringing in your ears after going to a festival or concert? This is already an indication of hearing damage. Unfortunately, by the time you notice you’ve suffered hearing damage, it’s already too late, the damage is irreversible. 

If you care about your hearing and about listening to music, you’ll wear earplugs, most people don’t. What are the risks of listening to loud music? How can you prevent hearing damage as a festival or concert visitor, without having to compromise your music experience? Read on and we will get you up to speed answering frequently asked questions.


How does hearing damage work?

Within the ear is the cochlea, here you find small nerve cells. As we get older, these get worn out. Which is why many elderly people don’t hear very well. That is what we call age-related hearing loss. Loud noises can also cause damage, this can happen instantly after hearing an extremely loud noise. Damage can also be caused by overburdening your ears when you are exposed to noises over 80 decibels too long or too often. The nerve cells do not recuperate from this damage by themselves. To this day, there have been no medical means discovered that can repair damaged nerve cells. This is called noise-induced hearing loss.

How loud is the noise at festivals?

The sound volume is generally around 90 to 100 decibels at outside environments. An inside festival tent or concert hall, this would be between 95 and 110 decibels, or even more. But how damaging are these amounts of decibels? You risk suffering hearing damage if you remain in an environment with noises of 80 decibels for longer than 8 hours. With every 3 decibels, the amount of time you can stay in that environment is cut in half. This is because, with every 3 decibels, the sound becomes twice as loud. Therefore you can stay in an environment with 83 decibels for 4 hours without the risk of suffering hearing damage, in 86 decibels just 2 hours. Taking into account the average noise at a festival, this means you risk suffering hearing damage within just 5 minutes!

What are the consequences of hearing damage?

Damaged nerve cells will no longer pass information through to the brain, deteriorating your hearing. It can also occur that they pass incorrect information, such as a buzz or a ring which is known as tinnitus. You could become over-sensitive to certain sounds (hyperacusis), hear sounds distorted (distortia) or hear differently with both ears (diplacusis). A temporary buzz or ring in your ears after visiting a festival or concert already indicates damage to the cilia. The chance of it becoming permanent increases each time you overburden your hearing again.

How do you prevent suffering hearing damage?

Stay clear from the speakers, do not stand too close to them. The noise around the speakers can soon go up to over 110 decibels, which means risking permanently damaging your hearing within seconds. It would be important for your ears to always wear qualitative earplugs. If you’d prefer the music and conversations to remain well audible, you can choose high-fidelity filter earplugs. Lastly: take an ear break every now and then. By taking a break, you give your nerve cells in the cochlea some time to recover from the noise. For example, go get a drink outside the festival tent every hour, take a quick visit to the toilet or walk around the festival grounds in areas where the music isn’t as loud.

Can you still enjoy the music while wearing earplugs? 

Luckily, earplugs have come a long way, and now there are a variety of options tailored to the live music experience. The average noise volume at a concert or festival is around 100 decibels. Depending on which earplug you have they can attenuate 19 decibels, which takes the volume down to a safe level. Using earplugs, you can stay at an average festival or concert all day long (8 hours) without a worry.

Isn’t it a waste to wear earplugs while going out?

Not with the today's latest earplugs. These have acoustic filters that takes the noise volume down to a safe level while preserving the music experience. Conversations also remain audible. There are plenty of brands on the market, so if you invest in them now your investing in your hearing future.

Can I wear earplugs for a longer period of time?

Depending on the brand, these could become uncomfortable over a long period of time. However, some earplugs are made of a comfortable soft thermoplastic material, which is silicone- free and shapes to the ear canals with your body heat. You can wear the earplugs all day or night long, without any irritation to the ears. They are barely visible and last for a long time.

If I only go to a festival once a year, do I also have to wear earplugs?

Yes, wear earplugs at every event! Even after listening to loud music just once, you can permanently damage your hearing. Remember, you have a risk of suffering hearing damage at any average festival or concert after just 5 minutes.

What about children at festivals?

The ears of babies and toddlers are even more vulnerable than yours and they are still in full development for the first few years. Specialists are worried about the increasing number of very young children with hearing damage that they find in their waiting rooms. That is why it is very important to use hearing protection for children. After all, their ears still need to last their lifetime.

We hope that we have answered your questions here and that have opened up your ‘ears’ to the damage that could be caused so easily at festivals or concerts. Do you suffer from noise-induced hearing loss or have you noticed something wrong with your hearing after attending a festival or concert?

If you already have a hearing loss from any cause, see one of our expert audiologists at your local branch for a FREE hearing test.

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